Back in April, When Ryan and I were invited to Gatineau for Robin Black’s first pro fight, we had no idea that it would be so soon after one of the biggest weekend in Mixed Martial Arts history. Forget the exhaustion both of us felt; I wasn’t even sure I could stand to see a man hit another man, let alone go cover the damn thing.
Considering how much real-estate we had already devoted to Robin on the site, we figured a trip to the nation’s capital would be a perfect ending to the whole “Rock Star turned MMA fighter” story. Besides, the alternative was to cover the EliteXC show on CBS, and seriously, who really gave two shits about that event?
Our trip was off to a shaky start, as we had planned to try and attend the weigh-ins, but were delayed waiting for a package to arrive by mail. The package was the newest addition to the technological goodies in the Fightlinker Arsenal: the Canon HV20. If you’re not a technocrat, it’s basically a fucking awesome hand held HD camcorder. In our effort to try and bring you exclusive kickass content, leaving without this critical device would have made the whole experience about 20 times less awesome.
When we arrived in Ottawa Friday night, we stopped by a friend who lived only 2 blocks away from bus station to shake off the cobwebs of traveling, and sat outside having a few beers in what was perhaps the darkest balcony known to man. The conversations were about sound systems, so before we fell into a boredom induced coma, we headed over to another friends to end the night on a bit of a wilder note.
Our friend Mike took us to a local pub, where we ran into some of Ryan’s old friends of yore. We were introduced to another guy named Ryan who told us he was an RCMP officer. This led me to have a 2 hour discussion about how our country is slowly becoming a police state, a claim he was hard pressed to deny. After more beers had been consumed, the discussion turned to girls, and I mentioned of hand that I was not a pretty boy, a claim he seemed to think indicated some deep seeded insecurities on my part. Immediately he seemed intent on getting me laid, and tried valiantly to get me some waitresses number. Of course, she was about 40 pounds overweight, and two leagues below me. Still, the effort was appreciated. Creepy, but appreciated.
When we left the bar, we chilled out at Mike’s place, and proceeded to continue our night of partying. Ryan was drunk and his usual incomprehensible self, and we attempted, in vain, to try and rest. The house is usually a revolving door of sketched out ravers looking for a company, and is always abuzz with the sounds of music, and idiotic conversations. By the time the sun had popped out, we had both managed to find horribly stained couches to pass out on, only to find that most of the drugged out losers were still talking about nothing passionately. There would be no rest for me. Ryan managed about 2 hours of sleep, but not much more. With the bright sun kicking the shit out of us, we headed out for the long bus ride to his brother’s house.
After a long and arduous ride, and walking forever, we arrived at the house, and took the time to shower, check up on the news, and rest a little. I showered and caught a cat nap while Ryan pumped out a post or two. We left shortly after for another fucking long ride back to town to go pick up our press passes.
Saturday Night Fights
There was no bus directly to the arena, and so after getting off at the nearest drop-off, we walked on, hoping to find a taxi along the way. After a good 35 minutes of hoofing halfway there without spotting one goddamn taxi, one finally picked us up, and the ride was so short I barely broke a 5 spot paying him. There was still an hour to kill before any press people were allowed in, so I collapsed on the lawn nearby while Ryan was busy filming High Definition cleavage shots with our new camera.
When we were finally let in, there was a momentary scare when the ticket lady was unable to find our press passes. Ryan had bullshited our credentials, listing every fucking organization off the top of his head. She finally found them, and I gave Ryan a bit of a surprised stare, silently congratulating him for getting away with such shitty lies.
We stumbled around looking for our table, half expecting to be relegated to an obscure and dark corner away from the action, but were delightfully surprised to find that we were actually ringside, in a pretty prime location. The excitement of such great seating was somewhat diminished by the fact that one of the “reporters” had a shitty hand held camera he had probably found at a Hanna Montana concert.
I normally don’t try to judge an organization’s overall quality with any generalization, but I was a little worried when the ring girls came out. Although I admit that I’m spoiled living in Montreal, I felt a little nauseous at the sight of so much cellulite in such young asses. It was obvious most of them had never heard of a gym, and instead chose to lose weight the old fashion way: with drugs.
Seated next to us was Sean McManus, who occasionally writes for MMAMania. He pretended not to know who we were; despite the fact that he seemed fairly knowledgeable of some of the gags we had done in the past. We chatted it up for a while, since the promotion was having problems, and the show was running late.
Some of the fighters were in the ring doing their little dances, and we spotted Robin, who came over to say hi, and iron out the details of where to meet up after the fight. The lights were finally working, and the fat ass boxing commissioners were slowly waddling their way to their little tables, with the fighters scurried off to their respective locker rooms.
The most surprising thing of the weekend was the inexplicable presence of Evan Tanner at the event. I snapped a few photos, and Ryan went over to interview him with our new camcorder. Unfortunately, most of the shots were so amateurish as to be unusable. He managed to cut Evan off that the head so bad you couldn’t even see his eyes. Fucking huge disappointment. The one amazing thing I realized by observing Evan is how uncomfortable he seemed. Most of the night he was busy hiding out in the locker room, looking like he was going to have a panic attack. It was then that I realized that Evan may love his fans, but he fucking hates the attention. It looked like he would have rather be getting an enema from his grandmother than being at an awesome night of fights.
The announcer took the stage. He was a guido-looking mother fucker with a tan so orange he made George Hamilton look like Marilyn Manson, but he did do a fairly good job at introducing the fighters with a characteristically cheesy voice. The show started a little clumsily, and most people only realized that the fights had started after the bell had actually rung.
Now, we were there to cover Robin’s fight, and had this been the only highlight, it wouldn’t have mattered very much to us. Not being forced to cover the event blow by blow allowed us to simply enjoy the fights, and even a boring one would have been a treat. Imagine my fucking surprise to find that all the matchups were AWESOME. I’ve always been hesitant to attend these local events, but the truth is that as gyms and coaches continue to improve in this country, the caliber of fighting continues to grow. The dark days of having one really good guy pounding a tomato can have slowly been replaced by real athletes with serious training engaging in close, nail-biting matches. There was even a “Rocky 4” moment when one fighter (a replacement who was given a 1 day notice before the event) managed to pull an upset in the third, despite the fact that he was literally carried back to his corner after the end of the second round. It was the fight just before Robin’s, and so expectations, and the appetite for destruction, was pretty high.
Robin’s opponent was a local guy, and the crowd was quite obviously on his side. A bagpipe band actually led him out, which was the only really impressive intro of the night. When Robin came out, the boos were loud and aggressive, but he seemed to be soaking it up. I was surprisingly nervous about this fight, since I had never actually cared about a result so much. Besides, a loss would probably mean that the after party was going to suck (yes, I am that selfish).
The fight started pretty quickly, with Robin throwing a few kicks. Then, suddenly, he got rocked by a series of good blows, and his face turned tomato red. Relying on his instinct, Robin took things to the ground, where he managed to pull off some slick move, even getting mount. From the top position, however, he wasn’t able to capitalize, and the other guy was still way too fresh to try and effective ground and pound.
In the second round, things seemed to be going better for Robin, although he was still eating way too many unanswered blows to the face. Finally, he pushed his opponent to the ropes, and landed a couple very awesome knees to the head, before it went to the ground again. Robin got a good triangle in, but it slipped, and he went for an armbar instead, which also slipped. A bit later, he got caught in a solid guillotine, and just as he pulled out, the “Pitbull” was able to land a sick triangle. Visibly exhausted, Robin had to tap. Victory was not to be his that day.
I managed to take a few good pictures, and we headed over to the back to see how he was doing, and to recharge our camera batteries. Robin was visibly disappointed, and felt he had let everyone down. I told him he had done well, and that he had got caught. Losing is a necessary part of MMA, and it wasn’t a one sided fight at all. Despite my encouragements, however, Robin was a bit zoned out. He told us to meet him at a bar called Heaven, and we parted ways.
Because we’re fucking broke assholes, and mostly due to the fact we wanted to spend our hard earned monies on beer rather than a cab, we decided to walk to the bar. The trek was roughly 45 minutes, and when we did arrive, the place was still fucking empty, and Robin was nowhere to be found. Twenty seven dollars later (which bought us a total of 2 beers each), we headed outside to try and reach Robin by phone. It was now 1:30, and he had very little time left if he was going to make an appearance. He told us he was on his way, but alas, was a no-show. I tried calling him several times, to no avail. We finally headed back home, a trip so fucking far that the taxi cost us 34 dollars. We hit the hay, intent on only waking up in the afternoon.
At 7 am, I received a text message. It was Robin. He wanted to go get drunk. My brain, fighting off exhaustion induced hallucinations, was refusing to get up. I replied that it would take us at least a few hours to get to his Hotel, to which he replied “Bring the Beers”. I woke Ryan up, who was not too pleased about the rousing, but we showered, packed up our shit, and headed back into town for the last time. I called Robin, who told us to wait in the hotel lobby, and that he would be joining us in 30 minutes.
Two hours later, a heavily sedated Robin walked into the lobby, barely noticing us. When we finally forced him to look our way, it was obvious from the whiskey breath that he had started the party long before our arrival, and he confessed to not remembering talking to me at all. His crew wanted to go out for breakfast, but things took a somber tone when they realized that one of their friends had been stabbed during the night in a crazy robbery attempt. Although there was no one with any details on what happened, they all headed out, presumably to go visit their friend in the hospital who was in a medically induced coma.
While deciding what to do next, Ryan gave me the pleasant revelation that he had lost his bus ticket. Not being extremely pleased, but needing some real food (we had barely eaten in two days), we headed over to a local pub to have a beer (so I wouldn’t be mad) while we waited for the brunch specials to change into real meal options. We would have gone for Italian food instead, but when a waitress asked what I wanted to eat, I replied “I just want some fucking Pasta”. The visible shock of hearing the F-bomb dropped in a family restaurant told me that the service would be on the unpleasant side. We finished eating, walked another hundred miles or so (well, it felt that long, I swear), we said goodbye to our friends, and headed back home.
It’s obvious that Robin has a lot of haters, and there are bound to be a bunch of douchbags that will revel in this loss as proof that he doesn’t belong in the sport. Personally, I thought the fight was good, and that a loss for Robin might be the best thing for him at this point. You learn so much more from a loss than you can from a win, and if he’s really serious about making this a career, he’ll appreciate the kinds of insights that can be gained from losing a fair match. We haven’t stopped liking Robin, and besides, fucker owes me a beer for getting me out of bed at 7 am. Damn that was brutal!